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There's no moral equivalency between the Israeli and Palestinian 'narratives'

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James W. Dale makes a welcome point in his commentary about the divestment campaign against Israel ("Choosing to stay engaged: Anti-Israel measures like divestment are not the best way to seek justice for Palestinians," May 4).

It is, as he says, vital that mainline churches, including his own Presbyterian Church, understand that anti-Israel "divestment" campaigns render their proponents destructive and deny them a voice at the table.

"Divestment" echoes both the Nazi boycott and impoverishment of German Jews and the Arab League's economic boycott of Israel.

Unfortunately, Pastor Dale offers a highly selective reading of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — even as he warns against doing so. He writes of "the ongoing travesty of the occupation" and claims that the Palestinian Arabs "continue to demand justice from the Israelis, especially the end of the occupation."

But if Palestinian leaders truly wanted to end the "occupation," why did they reject Israel's offers of a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — with eastern Jerusalem as its capital — in exchange for peace, in 2000, 2001 and 2008?

Today, there is no Israeli occupation of Gaza, which Hamas attempts to run as an Islamic theocracy. The Palestinian Authority, headed by Fatah, administers daily life of West Bank Arabs, suppressing free speech and the right of assembly in the process.

Pastor Dale warns against "such a simplistic solution" as divestment, but asserts "both narratives at work in Israel and Palestine trade in victimhood" and "each side stakes its credibility on being the bigger victim."

The implied equivalency is itself simplistic, avoiding moral distinctions. Israel built the West Bank security barrier after Palestinian terrorists murdered more than 1,000 Israelis — Jews and Arabs alike. Palestinian Authority television to this day continues to celebrate the perpetrators of terrorist crimes.

By all means let us deal with the complexity of the conflict, hoping to untangle the threads of an equitable peace. But if we insist there is no cause and effect, only equivalent "narratives," we'll never recognize the threads of responsibility for either the bloodshed or for peaceful coexistence.

Eric Rozenman, Washington

The writer is Washington director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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